Otsego, MN - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging swift implementation of the Abby Honold Act, which would offer competitive grants to law enforcement agencies and victim services organizations to implement evidence-based, trauma-informed approaches in responding to and investigating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Congressman Emmer is the author of the Abby Honold Act, and this initiative by the Department of Justice would mirror the nonpartisan legislation, which passed as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act in the House of Representatives.
"Victims of sexual assault and trauma deserve immediate support. Abby Honold was a student at the University of Minnesota when she reported her rape to the police and investigators. Her case ended with the prosecution of the perpetrator, but only because of Abby's bravery and the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) interviewing method that the nurse who cared for Abby utilized." Emmer said.
Emmer continued, "We now have a better understanding of the science of the brain, which often copes with traumatic experiences by shutting down portions, like the pre-frontal cortex. We also know this can cause a victim of trauma to have difficulty in recounting specific details of the crime. The interview technique used by Abby's nurse, Linda, was what allowed Abby to remember. This technique prevents re-traumatization and ensures law enforcement get the accurate information they need to properly investigate and eventually, secure a prosecution."
Emmer concluded, "The Department of Justice can take steps to implement this program, and provide resources nationwide to expand training to care for victims of sexual assault. I hope the DOJ will take immediate action on this important initiative. For Abby, and for the thousands of victims who experience trauma, this is a key part of their recovery process. By advancing the provisions of the Abby Honold Act, we will help victims all across America get justice and find healing."
Inspired by Abby Honold's story, Congressman Emmer worked with Senator Klobuchar to introduce the Abby Honold Act in both chambers of Congress during the 115th Congress. The legislation was reintroduced during the 116th Congress, and included as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act.
Specifically, the bill will create a grant program to train law enforcement agencies willing to participate in evidence-based, trauma-informed interview techniques to prevent re-traumatization of victims, improve communication between victims and law enforcement, and ensure accurate and complete information is submitted to law enforcement.
Today, Congressman Emmer is urging the Department of Justice to implement this demonstration program at the Department of Justice to issue grants in order to promote trauma-informed training for law enforcement and other personnel.
Read the full text of the Abby Honold Act here.
Read Rep. Emmer's letter to the Department of Justice here.